Monday, November 29, 2010

Presenting, again & at last

The Thursday before Thanksgiving was the first school presentations in over a year. We have a new format now, since the Jr Engineering equipment all got sold to a school in Idaho. Now I am taking only a laptop to the schools. This laptop has on it an open-source program called Stellarium. "Stellarium is planetarium software that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars. It's easy to use, and free."1. I can control time, show artwork for multiple cultures star lore, and even travel to Mars in my presentations with Stellarium.

On the 18th of December, I gave presentations at Sunrise Elementary School in Smithfield, UT for grades K-5. They went very well. For Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grade, I tell the Greek & Iraquois stories of the Big Bear, and the story of Andromeda & the Sea Monster for late fall/early winter. For 3rd grade, I do a presentation on the planets, which includes zooming in on Jupiter & the Galilean Moons, Saturn, and Mars, then changing our location to the Spirit landing site and looking back at Earth. For 4th grade, I do a presentation on the Navajo Skies, matching their social studies curriculum rather than the science curriculum. For 5th grade, I give a general planetarium, introduction to the night sky presentation, what stars/constellations/planets are currently visible in the evening, how to find them, and a little bit of information about them.

Today, I gave a presentation at Wilson Elementary in Logan, UT. Wilson does things a little bit different than most other schools. During the last 30 minutes of the school day, a different grade has time for special presentations each day. The teachers get collaboration time, and the students meet with the Library, Music, PE, & Computer specialists, and often they will bring in people to do special presentations or do art projects. This week, I am doing the presentations, and today was 5th grade. It didn't go so well, though. We couldn't get the computer to talk to the projector. So I had to wing it. I talked to the students a bit about light pollution, and then drew the Dippers on the board, showing them how to find Polaris, and then connecting the dots for Ursa Major, and I even tried to draw Ursa Minor. The kids kept talking to their neighbors, or if I asked them to raise their hands to answer a question, a bunch of them just shouted it out. It was rather annoying, but I can't really blame them because the equipment was not working. After school, the Music specialist & I did manage to get the computer to talk to her classroom projector (which is portable), so when I get there tomorrow and the rest of the week, I will just go into her room & get her projector, and hopefully, it will be working for the rest of the presentations. But just in case, I'm going to look for all the various NASA pictures I have collected over the years and take those with me as a backup.

1. quote from the website.